18 minute 5k Training Plan

Target Race Pace: 5:45 per mile for an 18 minute 5k

To run a sub 18 minute 5k you will need to be able to run at a target race pace of 5:45 minutes per mile pace for the 3.1 mile distance.  That works out at 3:35 per kilometre.

Your Speed/Distance Training Zones: 18 minute 5k

Pace per Mile/ KmTreadmill Pace400m / 800m Splits5km Race Pace
05:45 / 03:3510.4 mph / 16.6 km/h86s / 2:5217min 55s
*for speed/distance conversation allow for a small amount of rounding up/ down.
sub 18 minute 5k

Follow our training plan for a sub 18 minute 5k

Before starting this plan it is recommended that your 5k PB should be below the sub 20 minute 5k mark already and you are able to run faster than your target 5k race pace for at least 1km.

This is because during the course of this 18 Minute 5k Training Plan you will be running slightly faster than your race pace for short durations so you really need to ensure that you can run 1km at 5:45 pace. If you are not quite there yet, have a look at one of our other 5k training plans and build up to this one:

Other 5k training plans: 16 minute 5k || 18 minute 5k || Sub 20 5k || 22 minute 5k || 24 minute 5k || 26 minute 5k || 28 minute 5k || Sub 30 minute 5k || Couch to 5k Training Plan

Your 18 minute 5k Training Plan

Please read before starting a training plan:
Frequently Asked Questions
Signs of Overtraining
DayWeek 1Week 2Week 3Rec. Week
Monday30mins easy30mins easyHill Sprints
Rest/ Cross-train
[email protected]:35 per km / 90s 5:45p/m (90sec rec.)
[email protected] per 400m/ 5:35p/m (60s rec.)
[email protected]:35 per km / 90s 5:45p/m (90sec rec.)
Rest/ Cross-train
Wednesday30mins easy30mins easy30mins easyTempo Run
to include 3miles @6:00 p/m
[email protected]:49 per 800m /5:40p/m (200m jog rec.)
Kenyan Hiills
Rest/ Cross-train
FridayRest/ Cross-trainRestRest/ Cross-train30mins easy
Saturday30mins easy6x800m
[email protected]:49 per 800m /5:40p/m (200m jog rec.)
30mins easyRest/ Cross-train
SundayLong runLong runLong runRest/ Cross-train

Time commitment: You should be looking to commit roughly 3-4 hours of work a week over the course of the 18 minute 5k training plan in addition to any time spent cross training.

Breakeven Sessions – 18 minute 5k training plan

These sessions are used for maintaining fitness & recovery. Preparing you for breakthrough sessions:

  • Steady/ Easy Run – this run should be according to how you feel, don’t worry about the time, make sure it’s no quicker than 07:30 p/m. Concentrate on recovery and form.
  • Long Run – slow & steady run, this should be less than 1 hours work.
  • Fartlek – unstructured training. Example Fartlek sessions.

Breakthrough Sessions – 18 minute 5k training plan

These sessions are meant to be challenging intense efforts, treat them as mini-milestones towards your target:

  • 400m Reps – these need to be at 5:35 p/m pace (84s per lap) with a 60sec standing recovery.
  • 800m Reps – should be reps at 5:40p/m pace (2:49 per 800m) with a 200m jogged recovery.
  • 1km Intervals – hit 5:45p/m pace (3:35 per km) with a 90sec jogged recovery.
  • Hills: Kenyans/ Hill Sprints – alternate between Kenyans and Hill Sprints to get a balance of power and endurance training. Example Hill Training Sessions.

The core work for the 18 minute 5k training plan is set over a 3-week period with the addition of 1 week’s recovery. At the end of the first 4-week cycle you can repeat and/or tailor the plan to your individual needs to focus on your particular 5k event.

It is recommended that after three months following the 18 minute 5k plan that you reduce your training for a period of one to two weeks to allow your body time to recover from the impact of running. This should mean more time cross-training with a couple of nice easy runs every few days to keep the legs ticking over.

195 Responses

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  1. Dane says:

    Hello really like the look of this plan. I haven’t followed any kind of running plans since my cross country days and in those days I just shut up and did what the coach said without knowing the reasoning.

    My goal is sub 18:00 5km. I am wondering about the long runs. In it you say they should be “no more than 1 hour” is there a big negative impact I will find by going 2 hour runs on the long run day?

    The reason being is I really want to keep my volume high for marathons. I off the couched a 3:58 marathon this year with 2 10km runs under my belt and avg weekly mileage of about 10km. My joints screamed bloody murder but it was a fun experience. Looking to continue with the odd marathon here and there but am more interested in building a faster base currently then pursuing full marathon training plans (they’re boring). So can I do this 5km plan and throw in a once a week 15-30km run? That way I keep my mileage up for marathons and the long runs are my way to explore all the cool trails in my area

  2. Hi Matt, love the look to this plan – variety and tempo. Can I do this on a treadmill? And if so, what incline do you suggest? Thank you!

  3. Hi Matt, love the look to this plan – variety and tempo. Can I do this on a treadmill? And if so, what incline % do you suggest? Thank you!

  4. Vivek says:


  5. Tom says:

    I’m coming up short in the final mile. I have run more for distance over the last few years but started using this plan about 5 weeks ago and have been averaging around 32 miles a week.

    I can hit 10×400 at 79/80.
    This morning I went 4x 1km in 3:28,3:32,3:32,3:32.

    But last Friday I tried for a 5k attempt around 6:00. I hit 5:55, 5:59, and then crumbled to 6:37 and ended up at 19:15.

    How do I build up my endurance for the last mile?

    • Tom says:

      I can also hit the 6×800 and recently went – 2:58,2:49,2:46,2:46,2:47,2:50, but this 3rd mile is eluding me.

    • Mario says:

      I Tom. If I were you, I would try to do a conservative approach, like first mile above 6:10 p/m, second mile around 6 p/m and finally push your maximum level to the final mile until the end.

  6. John Guilbert says:

    I’m 52 year old male and 5′ 8″. My P.B. at the minute is 19:56 which I did last year on treadmill 1% gradient and I am around this at the minute. My warm up consists of 10-15 minutes going from 6.5kph to 17kph in an exponential fashion. I have a number of runs I do on treadmill currently as follows:

    1. 17.2kph for one minute and one minute standing recovery. I can do 15 reps of these
    2. Long runs for up to an hour – this includes 10 mins warm up and 10 mins cool down
    3. 400m x 10 @ 17.1 kph with 60 sec rest

    Should the plan below be altered at all for the older generation – possibly extended. I’m finding the 6x800m quite tough at such an early stage. Maybe I should be aiming for sub 19 minute first?

  7. Owen says:

    I’m a 15 year old freshmen, and track just finished. Do you think I’d be able to do this every week for 12 weeks, and get down from my 20:00 5k to an 18:30 or lower?

  8. Jesus says:

    Is it ok to switch your Saturday and Sunday workouts if you can’t do long runs on Sunday?

  9. Wongdi says:

    How long should I need to repeat this plan? I did my 5k in 19:03.Let’s hope I can do it.

  10. Martin says:

    Is the tempo in week four not too fast @3 miles @6min =18min??or is this the target race ?

    • Greg says:

      I feel like it’s close to the target but not *the* target. It’s slightly slower and slightly shorter. It’s 0.1 mile shorter, and 12 seconds per mile slower.

      Doesn’t seem like a lot.. but I feel like it definitely is.

  11. Justin says:

    Coming off a 3:35 marathon, the first cycle of this brought me from a 20:50 5k to 18:19. Second cycle brought me to 17:40! Excellent training plan. Thank you!

  12. Alex says:

    Thank you for this plan. I’ve looked at it a few times over the last 12 months, but the last 4 weeks I have made an effort to stick to it. Brought my 5K PB from 19:23 to 18:52 in that time.

    For some reason I really struggle to hit the 3:35 target in the km intervals (usually around 3:42). But the 84 second 400 metres are no problem.

    I have a half marathon to train for as well, so will have to mix things up a little bit, but you’ve given me hope of achieving a sub 18 run this year. Thanks!

  13. Brody says:

    My current best is 22:30 5k. I’m trying to drop to 18 minute. It seems far-fetched but I got 7 or 8 month to do it. Anybody have a plan for that?

  14. Caleb says:

    If my PR for a 5k is exactly 20 minutes right now but I don’t have any trouble with doing the intervals at the paces you have listed, do you think it would be okay to start working toward an 18 minute 5k, or should I do one more rotation of the 20 minute one?

    • Anonymous says:

      Just go for it, their is no reason why you should stick with a training plan for a time you already achieved, if you are planning to get faster and beat you record.

  15. Joe says:

    Could you send me a summer training plan to help run 17 on a 5k

  16. Nirmal says:

    Hi do you have 1 mile training plan

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Nirmal, no I’m afraid not, we only have 5k, 10k, HM Training Plans for now. Working on Marathon plans at the moment. Cheers

  17. Liam says:

    Hi Matt, I am interested in the motivation for the differences in the structure of the plans for different targets.
    For example, each plan includes 2 sets of 1km intervals in the first and third weeks, but I don’t understand the fact that for 26/24/22 minutes the count is 3 and 3 (seems surprisingly small), for 20 minutes it is 5 and 5 (a big difference), and for 18 and 16 minutes it is 4 and 6 (introducing a new progression through the 3 weeks). I can understand there could be a reason for differences between them, but what are the reasons you made these choices?
    [My last year’s PB is 22:20, so 22 minutes would be my next goal, with injury earlier this year giving me an excuse to put off a dream of 20 minutes until next year. I am not a youngster!]

  18. Micah says:

    you spelled “Hills” wrong. I’m 13 and even I noticed that.

  19. Maya Kaarina says:

    I am a 16 year old rising (female) junior. My current 5k time is 19:30. I have 12 weeks to train – by the end of the summer, could I get somewhere close to 18 flat after 3 cycles of this training program? I really want to make it to state by the fall, and while XC is a team sport, as captain, I feel obligated to somewhat carry the team.

    • Yes you can absolutely do this. I’d doubt you’d even need a full 12 weeks to be honest. You can probably do it after 8 providing your diet is on point also and you sleep well. Good luck.

  20. Tony says:

    Hi Matt, I have recently achieved my goal of going sub 19 for 5k at the age of 55 having only returned to running last June after two years out with various illnesses. I came across your sub 18 training program and it appears to be just what I’m after to initially go sub 18:30 and eventually sub 18. I’ve noticed the easy runs are only 30 minutes long and the long run no more than one hour. On my build-up to sub 19, my easy runs were 45 minutes, and my long runs between 60 and 100 minutes. I know I should stay rigid to the plan but I’m just wondering what your view is on the impact if I was to continue with 45 minutes for easy runs and up to 100 minutes for the longer ones?

    • james says:

      Hi Tony for me I have never concerned myself too much with the length of the easy run or long runs, just been really careful on observing my heart rate and making sure I listen to my body. As I progressed through the plans down towards the 16 I did need to do more in terms of both length of the long run and the easy runs to build the endurance required for the pace but I used my heart rate and how I felt to determine, not the suggested pace of the easy run or long run. Having said that Matt already does make this very clear that the pace isnt important. So for me main thing is listening to my body for both long run and easy runs.

  21. Kayden Sauder says:

    So what pace should I run for a 18 5k race??

  22. Joe says:

    Hi Matt, would it have any impact if I take more rest days between runs? I’m finding I need more time to recover, only for mild tendinitis after some runs (the long run especially). My question is, will I benefit less from the program if I take more rest days?

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Joe, no you won’t benefit less, you are doing the right thing and listening to your body. Take more rest and make sure you can complete the break out/harder speed sessions would be my advice.

    • Trace says:

      I’m 13 and currently have a pr of 19:43 do you think I could break 18 after doing this workout for 6 weeks

  23. Nick Whitehead says:


    With fartlek training days I was planning on doing a peramid session, 4 mins hard 1m recovery, 3 mins hard,,1 recovery, 2 hard 1 recovery then go back up until hit 4min hard again

    Is this any good?

  24. Todd says:

    This plan works fantastic! I started this with a PR of 19:05 and hit 17:54 in my race yesterday. Thank you for helping me break 18, highly recommend this plan for anyone looking to do the same!

  25. Keith says:

    Hi Matt,
    On the Tempo run for the 18min 5k plan, how long would you suggest it should be? I.e pace/distance before and after the 3mile at 6min per mile pace?
    This is a great site by the way, I can’t wait to give the plan a go!!

  26. Dave says:

    Hi. I find running at sub 7 min/mile on easy runs really beats my legs and feet up and I start getting mini injuries after a about 2 weeks. Whilst I haven’t tested myself in a race for a long time, I believe my current 5km time would be around 18:30 (I recently randomly ran 2 miles at 5:50 pace during a long run which felt hard but ok). Most of my running is done on the fells – so really hard up and down hill, followed by relatively slow flat sections). I would like to break 17:30 for 5km and fancy a mini project. Question: do you think running the easy sessions at around 7:40 – 8 min/mile would hinder progress?

    Great plan BTW, thanks.

    • Stan says:

      A lot of the time running slower on easy runs is better than going too fast. The purpose of them is to build your aerobic system and to help you recover. If you go too quick, there is no additional aerobic benefit; it will only hinder your recovery and possibly subsequent sessions. I would recommend running by feel instead of focusing on a desired pace. This way you can concentrate on recovery and build your endurance with little risk of injury.

    • Roi says:

      Yea that’s definitely too fast for an easy run. I’m doing my easy run around 8min/mile and it definitely helps recovery and even endurance. Medium runs are not super helpful. Run easy runs easy then go smash the hard ones.

    • Scott says:

      I’d like to see a reply from Matt on this to confirm. I have the same feedback as many others here – the suggested pace for the easy/long runs seems way too hard. I researched it (ok I watched a bunch of you-tubers) and Matt’s advice on this pacing is an outlier. Everything else is in line with the advice given by most. FYI – I’ve followed the fundamentals of this plan (ignoring the pace guide for the easy runs and just doing two speed sessions and a long one each week due to time constraints) and dropped my 5k from 20:30 to 19:10 in a month, having started running the month prior (I’m 43).

  27. Bin says:

    How much is the appropriate pace for the hills run? Tks so much!

  28. Emanuel says:

    Hello. I’m 33 and not good at all with English. My question is Can I get to sub 18 at 33 years old? My PB is 19,47 in the 5k.

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Emanuel, yes you certainly can! I know of many personal examples where runners who were well into their 40s have been able to take their 5k and 10k times down significantly. You’re only 33, I wouldn’t let age put you off at all; whether you take good care of your body, diet etc., is a much greater factor than age (at 33).

      • Emanuel says:

        Hi Matt. Thanks for your words. They were very inspirational to me.

        I couldn’t achieve my goals. Maybe my genetics are not good or my age is a factor. I’m clase to 34 now.

        My garmin profile is Emanuel, the profile image shows two pine trees and it’s snowing.

        I would appreciate some help or maybe advices. Pherhaps I got my peak and now is downhill.

    • Joe A Milette says:

      Emanuel, I’m 53 and this weekend’s race I’m expecting to run about 17:40. My workouts and easy runs are suggesting close to this. But I’m going to start adding some faster stuff like what I’m seeing here after this race.

  29. Gavin says:

    Matt, thanks for writing these training guides, I’m loving them for lots of reasons. They’re really well structured with the recovery week, which I feel is missing from a lot of plans. Without having that easier week, I’ve often overtrained in the past and ended up injured around 8-12 weeks into a training plan. Having plans for different target 5k times also really helps to find the right splits and sessions based on current progress, so I can review my progress every month. At 43 years old I’m having one of the most reliable, sustained periods of training and am on course to beat my 5k PB in the new year. Thanks for writing these and providing them free!

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Gavin, thank you for taking the time to write some feedback. I get a real buzz when I hear that the plans are being used and people are having success with them. It takes a lot of discipline to follow a plan like this so congrats to you for sticking with it and having the sustained period of training. Good luck with the PB hunt in the new year, and let us know how it goes. Cheers!

  30. Thomas says:

    I improved my 5k PB from 19:02 to 18:07 in 5 weeks, thank you so much for this plan, it’s great but pace for “easy runs” is too fast, I was running 4:30/km and that was maximum pace for “easy run”.

  31. Kaleb Smith says:

    Hi, I’m 16 and currently run 18:40 in the 5k, and am trying to get to sub 18 as fast as possible, I can already hit the race paces fairly easily. Should I try the 16 min plan to push myself more? or how many cycles do I need to do?

  32. Luke says:

    I’d like to endorse this plan. After 1 cycle (4 weeks) my PB improved from 18:21 to 17:46. Huge gains.

  33. Kiran Nielsen says:

    What about leg strength training, how do I incorporate this?

  34. Anonymous says:

    Hi, how many cycles of this should I aim to do to reach 18 minutes?

  35. Michael says:

    Hi to all,
    I’m 19:12 and would like to improve. I can easly run 3:35 reps however I don’t have enough endurance i guess.
    So after 3 weeks I should do 1 week of easy/recovery runs and then repeat it all again?

    • Conrad says:

      Hey so I’m 15, and I used to run a 6:00 mile but I’ve always been very skinny and short and have been trying to bulk up, but I feel like I have to choose one or the other, I went from a 6:00 mile to a 10:00 mile just by gaining about 20 lbs, any advice?

      • vincent says:

        I did the same with wrestling and no you can just start over that is what I have to do right now, like today I just got done with an 8 mile run In 57 minutes I’m not that proud of this because I was had 2 months of training before the fires in azusa.CA

      • Ask me Questions says:

        Something about this comment seems pretty off. If you are still having problems could you elaborate?
        -Exercise Physiologist

        • Conrad says:

          Are you asking me? If so I’d feel free to elaborate on my situation if you felt you could help me

  36. Nick white says:

    I am on week 3 of the plan and hitting all the times ,I’m just concerned about next week’s tempo run as my current PB is 19.12 a 3 mile tempo run at 6 min mile would take me in to all out race speed ,is this correct or should it be done slower?

  37. Nick white says:

    I am a bit confused regarding the tempo run on week 4 of the cycle. Is the 3 miles at 6 min mile continuous or 3 separate 1 miles at that pace .I’m managing to hit all the current target times on the plan but 3 miles at 6 min miles sounds too much of an ask as it would be quite a bit faster than my current PB of 19.12
    Many thanks nick

  38. Zika says:

    Thx a lotl!! I managed to save almost 1min from close to 20:00 to 19:00 for 5k in around 6weeks of preparation. I am mid 30, doing regularly between 30-40k/w for close to 2 years but I didn’t do enough intensity. This was very simple program. The only change I made is drop some 30min and replace it a bike or swim otherwise I would get injured. But the main interval sets I gave my best.

  39. Sam says:

    Hi, I’m 14 and I can currently run 19:20. The plan looks really good but I’ve got a few questions. I’ve never run before this week but I used to do a lot of swimming. I’m wondering if I should start off straight away or ease into it. Also, how long and at what pace is the long.

    • Alfred says:

      Hi sam, I’m 18 now but have a very similar background to you. I used to swim a lot so had good aerobic fitness and could run a sub 20 5km. However, I made the mistake of just going straight into running training and I ended up getting shin splints almost immediately. I would recommend easing into it with a few easy runs (conversational pace) a week for about 4 weeks before picking up intensity, and again build intensity slowly. This is something I learnt too late on. Patience is definitely key. You will get faster with time as long as you don’t get injured. Maybe look for a 12 week training plan instead which includes base building weeks.

    • ZIka says:

      I am not a couch, but have long experience in failing to improve the run 🙂
      I think cross training is as important as running and I would keep swimming. First, to avoid the injury (I feel that swim helps to recover from from run) and second to activate other little muscles that are hard to active during running. I did that for my 19:00 BP.

      However, the main intervals you should prioritize: do them on the fresh legs, prepare mentally and give the best shot. It shaved 1min for 6weeks in this way for my 5k.

    • Brock hays says:

      If I were you I would ease into it. I’m 15 running a 19:38 5k. That’s about a 6:28 pace.

  40. Rhys Phillips says:

    Hello, I am a 15 year old boy and I am currently able to run an 18:10 5k. I was wondering how many repetitions of your training plan should I do to at least run 17:55?

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Rhys, thanks for this and your previous question. You are very close to it already so I would expect one to two cycles and you should be there or thereabouts. Cheers

  41. Rhys Phillips says:

    I am able to run an 18:10 5k at the moment and I am going to do this training plan. I was just wondering, since I am already close to running sub-18, how many repetitions of this plan will I have to do to get my 5k time down to at least 17:55?

    • Erix says:

      How about you change to the next sub 16 min Plan. I would recommend that for you so you push yourself more instead of not improving as much as you could

  42. Shivam Singh Tomar says:

    Please sir 3month
    Running training program please sir

  43. Jim says:

    Hi, can you explain the difference between training shoes to competition shoes?

  44. Lucas says:

    Hey Matt, Hey. I had a question about the easy and long run paces. I saw that you wanted the easy runs to be ran at 6:30 ish and around the same for the long run. I ran an 18:36 for the 5k but i don’t think I could maintain that pace for the long run. Also for the easy runs it would be difficult to really recover while running that fast, I usually do easy runs at like 7:50 right now. Are the easy runs supposed to be more tempo-like. Would it be better to take it easy like 7:00-7:20 ish for the easy runs and long runs, or should I try to push through it and give it everything I have everyday?

  45. James says:

    Hey. I had a question about the easy and long run paces. I saw that you wanted the easy runs to be ran at 6:30 ish and around the same for the long run. I ran an 18:36 for the 5k but i don’t think I could maintain that pace for the long run. Also for the easy runs it would be difficult to really recover while running that fast, I usually do easy runs at like 7:50 right now. Are the easy runs supposed to be more tempo-like. Would it be better to take it easy like 7:00-7:20 ish for the easy runs and long runs, or should I try to push through it and give it everything I have everyday?

  46. trainer says:

    Hey Matt, I have a 5k race this Friday. Could you recommended me what trainig should I do?

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi, I would probably do a couple of gentle runs/jogs, one on Monday and one on Wednesday and perhaps a brisk walk on Thursday.

  47. daniel says:

    Hey Matt, my PB is 18:5. I’m trying to get sub 18. Do you think I could sub 18 to 13.12.19?

  48. Jogger says:

    Exactly what I was thinking

  49. Ryan says:

    Hey Matt, I’m a High School Junior and my PB is 20:09… I’m trying to get sub 18 and hopefully 17:30 if I can. Do you think that is possible by Senior season? And do you think I can start this plan now, even though I haven’t ran sub-20 minute 5k yet?

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Ryan, if you’re PB is 20:09 then I suggest you stick to the sub 20 plan for one more cycle and then give the 18 minute plan a go. I’m not sure when your senior season starts? (I’m in the UK), but I think it’s entirely possible that in 2-3 cycles of the training plans here that you can get your time down to 18 minutes. Obviously assuming you are looking after yourself, eating, sleeping right etc., Good luck and let us know how it goes. Cheers!

  50. Chris says:

    Im a sophmore season ended my pr is 18:31 any way i can get faster to a 18 flat by a month or 2?

  51. Chris says:

    My pr is 18:31 or 41 i am a sophmore and fastest time for a 1mil is a 5 flat tring to get fatser havent tried this yet but hope it works trying it starting monday

  52. Chris says:

    I am a sophmore and my pr is a 18:31 for a 5k trying to get faster in speen and trying to last longer in distance any suggestions

  53. Lucas Cook says:

    He Matt I am a Freshman in high school my PR is 21:08 and the season just ended. Any suggestions for helping this for my spring training plan/ during Track? if you need more info on my goals my end of year senior goal sub16. Thanks for helping out!

  54. Steve John says:

    Hi Matt thanks for providing the plans the information is great. I’ve just completed the 6 x1 km at 3.34 km. I’m thinking about doing the Park Run this weekend. However my previous Pb is 19.52 and was wondering if it is possible to run sub 18 or I will need to do another cycle. Thanks

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Steve, if you successfully completed the 6 x 1km session in 3:34 reps then you sound like you are ready to give it a go assuming the other speed intervals sessions went okay. I wouldn’t focus on your previous PB too much, if you are capable of hitting the times for the speed sessions in this plan and you are feeling good then go for it. If it doesn’t work out, you just incorporate it into your training, perhaps do one more cycle and then go again.
      Let us know how you get on, and good luck!

  55. Luke says:

    Hi Matt, I am a Sophomore in High School and recently did cross country. I know I can run a sub-20, but I’m not sure how much quicker it would be. I would really like to continue to run in the offseason for well… ever. I want to always have a program to do. When I reach a sub 18 5k should I move on to the 16 5k program? Should I just keep repeating this program?

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Luke, yes I always find it’s good to have a program to follow, I get lazy otherwise! As to whether you want to repeat the sub 18 plan or move to the 16min 5k plan, that is entirely up to you really. If you want to try and get faster and run a 16 min 5k then I suggest you move to this plan when the time is right for you. Make sure you take plenty of recovery though – an easy week after every 3rd week is recommended and if you are planning on moving through a few of the training plans I would also suggest you take a two week easy period at some point as well, to keep things fresh. Good luck with your training.

  56. Steven says:

    Hey – I’ve been working through these in cycles as shown. Completed the 22-minute, then just finished the 20. Started the 18 Monday (did sub-20 5k Sun) but have been struggling with new pace. Any tips on easing in to new pace? Should I be taking a few days to recover from the 5k first? IDK how I’m gonna progress to this level the way I’ve just felt the first couple days.

    • Kyle says:

      Not sure if you’ve received any answers yet but try backing off the distance a bit and going for 8 200m sprints at about a 30-35 second pace. Your body will stop responding to the same stimulus over time so mixing it up by strengthening and growing fast twitch muscle will help you break that plateau and you can get back to improving your times.

  57. Gavin says:

    It’s my first year running XC (last year I ran track) wish I found this over the summer cause now I’m playing catch up I just ran a 19:10 5K (not really thrilled my last mile was REALLY slow) hope to see gradual improvement as the year goes on!! (Also how many cycles do you think it’ll take to get to 18:25-18:30ish)

  58. Robinsh sharma says:

    hey mat my 5k time is 19:42 min and i want to do sub 5 min mile for military run test can you suggest me some training plan.

  59. Wally says:

    Hey Matt. The table stopped being available today. Can you post it back up? Thanks!

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi, folks. Hopefully the training plan table is back up now, please let me know if there’s any problems. Couple of Gremlins in the system but should be good now. Cheers.

  60. Steve says:

    The training chart for a sub 18 5k isn’t showing up anymore. In place it’s saying “[table “” not found /]:. Could we get that back up?

  61. Ignacio says:


    Just started this plan! My PR on a 5K is 18:48 min. Achieved two times in two races… can you believe it? I just nailed it… I hope these is not a ceiling record for me, as I intend to hit a sub 18. That is my absolute goal! I managed the 4x1Km @ 3:35 but lets see the 6x800m … that one seems challenging! Sometimes I need extra time to recover, especially the last intervals. I guess thats better than giving up the traininig! Well thanks again for sharing this plan. I feel quite inspired ! Cheers!

  62. Christi-Anne says:

    So I broke 20, but how do I transition from 19:57 to 18 minutes?

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Christi-Anne, congrats on breaking 20 minutes. The plans have been put together so you can transition from one to the next once you’ve hit the previous target. You should be good to start the sub 18 minute plan now, just don’t expect yourself to be running at exactly the right pace yet, it’ll probably take a couple of cycles.

  63. Henry says:

    So after the recovery week, do you just start over at week 1?

  64. Dr Clark says:

    6:20 per mile for an easy run is insane. I knew someone who could run a 15min 5k, and his easy pace was 6:30per mile.

  65. Bryce Hampton says:

    I am a high school runner in Indianapolis Indiana, and I think this is very helpful. I originally ran a 5k in 18:24 and I completed this chart after practice everyday and I hit a sub 17:30 5k time. This is very helpful.

  66. Vinnie says:

    This is a great plan. on my first 4 week cycle I went from 18:24 to 17:51. My only concern with the plan is the long run pace been only 10 secs above tempo is this correct. I would have thought the pace for long runs at this level would be around 7:15-7:20. I was in flames when I first did a long run (9.5miles) at 6:20 haha.

    Saying that its the best 5k training plan I’ve ever used.

  67. DMC says:

    Easy run harder than long run?!

  68. Jonathan says:

    Steady/ Easy Run – this should be no quicker than 06:20 p/m. Would this be to fast for a guy running 5:40 pace for a 5k? Or should this feel more like a tempo? I am Using this plan for an 18:50 5k and just am curious. Thanks!

  69. Jamie says:

    Hello Matt,

    I train running with heart rate monitor most of the time. I wonder, if these breakthrough intervals should really take me to my max heart rate zone which is above 174 bpm or is it relevant at all?

    Another question, can a good tempo run replace a break even session i.e. 800m x 6 or 4 x 1 km run because yesterday I had to do my easy 5km run but eventually ended up running a tempo run for the most part of these 5km, – according to my heart rate monitor and fatigue in my legs.

    What advice can you give on heavy legs? Often times I feel like I could blast those intervals i.e. 6x1km but my legs are “Nope. Not today, mate.”, which is annoying. Especially, when I have days when I otherwise feel fine but whence I start running it feels like I struggle to make those damn legs move faster.

  70. Dean says:

    Hi Matt,
    Thanks for this…. I’m on week 3 of the plan and just completed the 6x1K session – I was slightly under target for the first 3k and a little over for the next 3… probably still fatigued from the hills yesterday.
    With regards to targeting a race when would you look to race based on this plan – end of week 3 but miss the fartlek or week 4 after an easy week on fresh legs?
    I’m feeling so much stronger this week than previous and looking at targeting a 5k after the first cycle to see where I am

  71. Stephen McAlpine says:

    Hi Matt – just about to launch into this. I’ve been doing 80-90km weeks with marathon in mind (it’s southern hemisphere summer so not marathon season yet), but not enjoying it this year as life is too busy for 90-120km weeks. Speed has always been my first love and I hover around 18:25-18:50 for Parkrun (I’m nearly 51), but never having shortened the weeks I don’t know what my true pace could be. The mind shift is to cut the kms and increase the speed this year and get rid of the 30km long runs! I’ll keep you posted, but this looks the goods.

  72. Matt says:

    Hi Matt,
    Thanks for the plan…just wondering if week3, and , with it’s potential layout might be too intense in terms of recovery time?….a succession of a long run Sunday (@6:30 min/mile….hills in this part of the world)…Monday(hill sprints)….then on Tuesday followed by 6x1km @5:45?….I’m struggling getting on pace for Tuesday’s session after managing everything else on the weeks so far…… @ 44 yrs old , maybe I just need an extra day of recovery ….I tend to run on the Friday too, that might be taking it’s toll too?

    • William says:

      I had a similar issue to you in week 3 Matt. I’ve re-arranged the 3 workouts to be tue, thu and sat instead of mon, tue, thu.
      Most probably not ideal but works better for me in terms of recovery. I also run the easy/long runs slower than Matt’s recommendations since I find that running these too hard affects my ability to hit the target times in the intervals.

  73. Magnus says:

    Also, wouldn’t two weeks of recovery after three month cycle downplay the achievemed results and detrain you?

  74. Russ says:

    Hi Matt,

    Just wanted to thank you for the plan. I managed to take my 5k time from 18:45 to 17:35 in just one 4 week cycle. I wasn’t sure that I was even ready given how tough some of the sessions were… 6x1km Repeats were particularly bad.

    Before this, I’d never followed a plan focusing on speed but I’ve really enjoyed it – nice short sessions as opposed to Ultra training! I’ll be starting on the sub-16 plan on Monday. Thanks again, Russ

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Russ, well done and thank you for the feedback; it’s always nice to hear some success stories. Pop back sometime and let us know how you get on with the 16 minute plan, cheers.

  75. Magnus says:

    Hello Matt,
    How do I make transition from sub 20 minute plan to sub 18? Thanks to your wonderful plans, I have beaten sub 20 minutes in 19:47 but looking at 18 minute plan paces is discouraging as I would barely keep up with any of the perscribed above.

    Thank you,

  76. William says:

    Hi Matt
    I have a track race 5km (masters) coming up on the 8th April. My recent 5km parkrun pb is 19:07. Starting on January 8th that will give me 13 weeks to get to sub 18. My idea is to run your plan 3 times, with the last 2 weeks recovery/taper. Does that make sense or would it be better to only run this plan twice – and maintain my current focus on higher mileage/less speed for January?


  77. Ryan says:

    Hi Matt,

    Thank you putting this workout plan together. I have been following it for the past few weeks and I’ve already improved my endurance noticeably. I was wondering why you have four pretty tough days in a row going from week two to week three, as I think it would be more beneficial to rest/run easy on the third Monday rather than run hills, and maybe hills should be on Thursday during week 3.

    • Ryan says:

      Also, 6:30 is fast for a long run for someone who is running an 18 minute 5k. The Elites at Nike Oregon Project did 6:14 for a long run, so I think the pace should be closer to 7:30.

  78. Simon says:

    Hi, I started the sub 18 mins, 3 weeks ago. I really should’ve started sub 20 mins as my 3 mile PB was 21:43.. I’m still quite quick over the shorter distances and found the sub 18 mins more of a challenge.

    My parkrun after 3 weeks is down to 20:40 taking a minute off my time due to the programme. I’ve only been running again for the last 2 months, and was wondering how long on average a person takes to get from 21:00 mins to let’s say 16 / 17 mins.

    I’ll continue on the sub 18mins programme until I get there and then move on to the sub 16 programme.

    At the moment I’m using park runs as my markers/goals Ie I’m on 3 parkruns now and by 10 parkruns would like to be sub 20 mins.

    So Id like to set a target for park run 50 and park run 100 etc. So I know I’m not slacking.

  79. Abaan Ansari says:

    This is my first year in highschool and it’s fun and I joined cross country as a side sport, but my PR turned out to be 18:34 but I couldn’t push through the last part which i am mad at myself for and basketball was my main sport but now I think my coach wants me to stick with running to improve since I am decent at running. Anyways i wanted to ask i want a 16 minutes for a 5k at the begining of sophomore year and I know it’s going to be extremely hard but I wanna start winning and I barely made it to regionals but got almost last place which is bad. sorry for getting off topic but I am going to training all year around so any tips on how to improve and reach my goal

  80. Paul says:

    Hi, I’m a 51 year old, looking at running under 18 mins for 5k.
    I was very quick in my earlier years, running 800m and 1500m on the track, my PBs were, 800m – 1:50.4. 1500m-3:46.7.
    Any advice about how I should train, I’m in very good shape, I ran 5k a few weeks in 18.30.
    Paul Drake

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Paul, thanks for your query. If you are running 18:30 already and are in good shape then I wouldn’t think you need to do anything special other than follow the plan on account of your age. I know plenty of guys, in their 50s, who have had results following the 18 and 20 minute plans. Obviously as one gets older, and I’m conscious of this myself these days, you need to pay closer attention to rest & recovery. When I was 30 I could probably get away with skipping the recovery sessions and days off, but not anymore. If it’s an option I would recommend doing some Pilates or Yoga to supplement your training.
      Let me know how you get on.

  81. Ben says:

    Hey, I’m a sophomore in high school and my pr is 18:08 I’m trying to do your sub 16 minute 5k plan with the hope of running a 16:30 my junior year or after three months of training and I started a couple weeks ago on your training plan. But I tried to run your tempo run 3 miles at 5:30 I got the first mile and a half but couldn’t continue. What should I do am I being to ambitious and I should be doing your sub 18k? or just tone it down and try to run a 17:30?

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hey Ben, your ambition is admirable but I suggest you opt for the sub 18 minute plan first. When you are comfortably running the target race pace for this plan and you get your PB down to sub 18 then I would move onto the 16 minute plan. Good luck!

  82. Alex says:

    Hi, just have a couple of questions about the training plan for 5K under 16 mins. You have these two suggestions there (see below) and I’m wondering A) whether 1) below is the same as “30 mins easy” in the training plan table, and B) what pace would you suggest for 2) below:
    1) Steady Run – this should be no quicker than 06:00 p/m.
    2) Long Run – this should be less than 1 hour.


    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Alex, thanks for you well constructed query 🙂
      A) Yes you are correct, ‘Steady’ is meant to be the same as ‘easy’ run; I will modify the text here so it’s less ambiguous.
      B) I would suggest something like 06:15-06:30 pace would be good.

      • Alex says:

        Great, thanks! Oh, boy that pace is fast for a long run 🙂 If you were to choose, would you suggest to keep this pace as much as possible, but go for a shorter distance (if one cannot keep it for 8-9 mile), or still try to get closer to 1 hour of running, but at a slower pace? I hope this makes sense.

        • Matt Matt says:

          Hi Alex, it makes sense :-). I would suggest the latter, do the hour but at a slighter slower pace. Make sure the legs are firing for the real speed work on the interval days.

  83. Ronald says:

    How Long are steady runs you prescribe typically?

  84. Hans says:

    Hi Matt,
    I am 14 years old and My personale Best in 5k is 18:45 for one year ago. Would i be ok to give the program a try and foucus on Going on 18:00.

  85. Em DeLine says:

    I’m a highschool xc and track athlete in my senior year and I am looking to break into the mid 18’s. My current PR is 19:16 but I would like to blow that out of the water.
    What tips/advice could you reccomend?
    I’m looking to run D1 or D2 in college.

    Thank you for your time!

  86. Alex says:

    Hi Matt,

    Really like what you put together here! Going to try the adjusted 18 minute plan (+30s/mile) to get back to last year’s 19:30 PB shape from most recent 19:58 (after injury) and hopefully beyond. I have a few questions:

    1. No issues back to back hard days on week 3? Hill Sprints usually make me very sore, especially to do 6x1k the next day.
    2. I noticed for the 18 minute plan the 3 mile Tempo on recovery week is @ 10k pace. Is that on purpose? Seems a bit fast for tempo?
    3. 2 mi w/u and 2 mi c/d OK for all workouts? Looks like it will get me to around 30 miles per week, exactly where I want to be, without doing 90-120 minute long runs.


  87. Richard W says:

    Hi Matt,

    Just for clarification, on the 4th week you run twice during the week? The rest is made up of cross training? And you cycle this and restart week 1 – 4 all over until goal pace is achieved?

    All interesting stuff, thanks for posting.

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Richard, yes that is right: couple of runs in recovery week with cross training and then repeat 1-4 until you’re comfortably hitting target pace and ready to race. Good luck with your training, let us know if the plan(s) work out for you.

  88. Tim says:

    Hi Matt

    I ran my first sub 20 5km 2 months ago ( 1945) without any targeted workouts. Now i am probably around 19 20 for 5km. Would i be ok to give the program a try or should i focus on going 18; xx first?


    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Tim,

      I would opt for the 18 minute 5k plan but just be mindful that you might need to adjust the split times by a few seconds.
      Let us know how you get on.

  89. Charles Murgia says:


    In the past, I liked to double up some runs on certain days. It helped me get in miles. Can I incorporate this work out and still do a couple doubles during the week? If so, how would I do that.
    Thanks you,

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Gbird,
      For the 5k plans, I’ve found that there can be less focus on getting in the miles as when training for longer distances. As long as you are doing enough to comfortably run the distance the focus should be on hitting the right speeds when you do run. That said, and specifically if you are at the 18 minute level and below I don’t see a problem with throwing in some recovery type runs on some days as long as they are not hampering your efforts for the key speed sessions then you should be fine.
      It took me ages to learn something very simple, which was: listen to your legs.

  90. Eduardo Vila Real says:

    about 10k sub40 Training Plan:

    1. what´s the target pace for rec during interval section?
    2. what´s the target for gentle pace during a long run training section?


    • Matt Matt says:

      1. No set target pace, just recover with a sensible jog. Not too fast, but don’t walk.
      2. This can vary slightly depending on your base endurance and experience in running longer distance, as a guide I would suggest somewhere between 06:20 and 06:40.

  91. Bob says:

    Is this for a sub 18? Or just anywhere in the 18’s

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Bob, this should get you to a place where you can run sub 18.

      • Chris says:

        Hi I have completed your sub 20min 5k program and run sub 20mins, I have have now moved on to the sub 18 min program but in both programs always find the intervals easy but the pace mentioned in the long and steady/easy runs a challenge. What would you suggest here?

  92. Landon says:

    Hey Matt, just wondering, I’m a 17 year old and I have 2 and a half months before xc starts, my fastest time was 19:25, by doing this training plan is there enough time to get the 18 minute 5k?

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi, yes I would think so. If you have 10 weeks left before then that definitely sounds like enough time to get to the sub 18 5k plan. Good luck!

      • Maya Kaarina says:

        Oh, this is great news because that is my time exactly, and even less time than I have – I have a 19:30 and 12 weeks to go! Do I have a sub-18 min 5k in my future?

  93. Andrea says:

    How do you read this?

    Tempo Run
    inc. 3m @6:00 p/m

    Does inc mean include? And is it 3 minutes? 3 miles? @ 6:00 p/m

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Andrea, apologies if it’s slightly ambiguous; I will update the page to be more specific.
      It means that for your tempo run you should try and aim for 3 miles of running at 6 minute mile pace in the middle of a jogged warm-up and warm-down.

  94. barry hughes says:


    i work on a ship and can only do the treadmill based training, im following the sub 18 min 5 k program what settings and distance do you suggest i put in the treadmill for the hill sprints and fartlek training


  95. Danny says:

    Hi matt what pace would you run your easy run at? Thanks danny

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Danny,
      I would go for something like 6:30 pace. It doesn’t need to be a exact, but definitely no quicker than 6:20.

    • Kevin says:

      Hi Matt – still wondering about the long run? A pace of no faster than 6:20 is very quick. My understanding of the long runs are mostly for time on your feet and legs. Am I reading this correct or can we do the long runs at around 8min per mile not allowing ourselves to go below 6:20p/mile. Appreciate and thanks!

      • Matt Matt says:

        Hi Kevin, yes that’s correct; no quicker than 06:20p/mile. If you are at the level of training for a 18 minute 5k then I would advise somewhere around 7 mins per mile for a long run, but certainly no quicker than 6:20 though. In my view the ‘time of your feet’ theory has merit, but perhaps less so for 5k specific training than for 10k and above. The distance and speed of the long run is very much down to personal preference, just go with whatever feels right (just don’t make it too quick!) 🙂

  96. Nikos says:

    hello 🙂 Thank you very much for the perfect plan 🙂 One Question please .When you say 30 minutes easy run you mean ,Steady Run ?If this is correct you mean 30 minutes no quicker than 06:20 p/m. ? Is this correct ? Thank you 🙂

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi, pleased you like the plana and hope you find it useful with your trainning. Yes steady/ easy run are one and the same, so no quicker than 06:20 for this one.

  97. Kester says:

    Thank you very much Matt I really aprreciate it!

  98. Kester Hilot says:

    Hey Matt I am a triathlete can I still achieve the goal if I mix it up with swim and bike?

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Kester, yes you certainly can. You may need to look at doing two sessions per day on some days though. If you are pushed for time you could consider swapping the cross-training sessions in this plan for your swim/bikes. Make sure you keep the running speed interval sessions in though as these are key to getting your time down. If you are interested I can share my own traithlon training plan with you and you can tailor that to suit. Let me know.

  99. Mark Jacobson says:

    what do you suggest for training the week before a Saturday morning 5K race

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Mark,
      I find that tapering is quite a personal thing to each athlete and depends on distance and importance of the event to your overall training goal. In this instance I would be looking to train normally up to about Tuesday and then ease off before Saturday; I wouldn’t do any major speed sessions after Tuesday and then before Saturday look to do one or two gentle runs with the odd brisk mile thrown in. Personally, I would take the Wednesday and Friday off running completely (and swim), do a gentle run or low-gear spin on Thursday and you should arrive at the line on Saturday morning with your legs itching to start running.
      Hope that helps!

  100. Noobar says:

    Should you run 800*6 in faster pace than 400*10? I think it should the same pace as 1000*4.

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi, I have made a slight modification to the timing for the 800m sessions. I wouldn’t recommend doing these at the same pace as your 1km reps, but slightly quicker at 5:40 per mile which is 2:49 per 800m or thereabouts. The variations in speeds between the sessions should now give you a good range that’s easy to remember.

  101. Malcs says:

    This is exactly what I’m looking for Matt, many thanks! Quick question about the Steady and Long runs. You say no quicker than 6:20 pace for the steady – is it intended to be a fairly hard run then? What would be the ideal pace? And what about the long runs? When marathon training I’d do these slow so 7:30-8:00 p/m. Same here too?

    Maybe you explain this in the ‘Breakeven and Breakthrough’ section but the link above just comes back to this page.

    Thanks again!

  102. W says:

    Why 4×1000 and not 5×1000?

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi, thanks for posting.
      There is already a 6×1000 further on in the training block and by doing the 4×1000 here you’ll have plenty in the legs still for the 6x800s to come in a couple of days.

  103. Stephen says:

    Hey Matt why do state that the long run should be less than 1 hour? Many similar plans say a long run of 75-90 mins.

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Stephen,
      Most plans quite often just state a generic ‘long-run’ based upon an arbitrary assertion that your long-run must be a certain % (usually 25-40%) of your weekly mileage. I’ve found that for 5k focussed training going longer than an hour/hour and a quarter has no real benefits. Sure, if you are doing 10k’s as well then longer is fine, but for 5k an hour is plenty to get all the benefits that your body will derive from the long run. Use the extra half hour as recovery so you can get the most out of the high-intensity sessions! Good luck.

  104. R44 says:

    [email protected]:44 per 800m /5:45p/m (200m jog rec.)”
    I am wondering how to read that?
    2:44 per 800 m is 5 30 per mile not 5:45 🙂

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi, apologies for the typo there. I have now corrected it, you were quite right it should be 5:30 p/mile. Thanks for letting me know and hope the training is going well.